Israel approves prison sentences for ‘terrorists’ as young as 12

Rights groups have slammed the measure saying that jailing ‘such young minors denies them the chance of a better future’.

An Israeli soldier arrests a young Palestinian boy following clashes in the West Bank town of Hebron, on 20 June, 2014

Israeli politicians have approved jailing children as young as 12 convicted of “terrorist offences” in the wake of repeated attacks by young Palestinians, parliament said on Wednesday.

“The ‘Youth Bill’, which will allow the authorities to imprison a minor convicted of serious crimes such as murder, attempted murder or manslaughter even if he or she is under the age of 14, passed its second and third readings… Tuesday night,” an English-language statement said.

It added that the seriousness of attacks in recent months “demands a more aggressive approach, including toward minors”.

The statement quoted Anat Berko, an MP from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and the bill’s sponsor, as saying “to those who are murdered with a knife in the heart it does not matter if the child is 12 or 15”.

Violence in the Palestinian territories and Israel since October has killed at least 218 Palestinians, 34 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese, according to an AFP count.

Israeli authorities insist most Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, although activists, and many families of the alleged attackers, have disputed this.

Many of the assailants were young people, including teenagers. Other youths have been shot dead during protests and clashes with security forces.

Israeli justice minister Ayelet Shaked gave the bill full backing when it came before a ministerial committee last year.

“Youths, such as Ahmed Manasra, who engage in terror and seek the death of Jewish civilians will not be shown mercy by the law,” media quoted her as saying.

Manasra, a 14-year-old Palestinian, was convicted in May of the attempted murder of two Israelis in a knife attack last October. He was 13 when he carried out the attack and is yet to be sentenced.

Along with a 15-year-old cousin he stabbed and seriously wounded a 20-year-old and a 12-year-old boy in the Jewish settlement neighbourhood of Pisgat Zeev in annexed east Jerusalem.

The cousin was shot dead by security forces, while Manasra was hit by a car as they fled.

Manasra, an east Jerusalem resident, was the youngest Palestinian to be convicted by an Israeli civilian court in the current round of violence.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem criticised the bill and Israel’s treatment of Palestinian youths.

“Rather than sending them to prison, Israel would be better off sending them to school where they could grow up in dignity and freedom not under occupation,” it said in a statement Wednesday.

“Imprisoning such young minors denies them the chance of a better future.”

Military law, applied to Palestinian residents of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, already allows imprisonment of 12-year-olds.

A 12-year-old Palestinian girl from the West Bank, convicted of attempted murder by a military court as part of a plea bargain and sentenced to four months, was released from prison in April.

(Source / 03.08.2016)

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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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